Review of A Most Unpleasant Wedding
“One reason Judith Alguire writes mysteries is because she reads them. A lot of them. Her reading tastes run to crime fiction, thrillers, and horror. Think Michael Connelly, think Peter Straub. think Stephen King. "I do not read cozies," she says.
Alguire's latest, A Most Unpleasant Wedding, is the third in her Rudley mystery series, following Pleasantly Dead and The Pumpkin Murders.
At the Pleasant Inn, set in Ontario's incomparable cottage country, we find Trevor Rudley, his wife Margaret, and their entire eccentric ensemble looking forward to an on-site wedding, that of Elizabether Miller and Edward Simpson, two of the regular guests. What could be more pleasant?
But after a rather noisy camp-out with Margaret, Trevor literally stumbles onto a dead body in the woods behind the inn. A local lady, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered. Clues confuse, wedding plans persist, police ponder, and there are plenty of motives to go around.
"My novels are almost always inspired by a person, someone I've seen in a restaurant, or in a line at the grocery store," Alguire says. "Margaret, the co-proprietor of the Pleasant Inn, was inspired by hearing an Englishwoman speaking. I was beguiled by the cadence of her speech.
"I knew Margaret belonged in a rural setting and I knew she belonged in a murder mystery. For me, the character dictates the genre," says Alguire, who has also published two sports novels, All Out and Iced, a science fiction novel, Zeta Base, and several literary short stories.
She never starts with an outline.
"Often I write the opening and closing scenes before I have any idea of who the murderer and victims will be. I tend to write scenes as they occur to me, and when I feel I've written enough, that's the first draft. I then go over what I've written, noting the main points. I organize the main points into a coherent second draft. Then I go looking for plot problems, inconsistencies, and so forth. I usually do four drafts before things come together."
Alguire writes each draft in longhand in notebooks, and then transcribes it to the computer. She's not fond of computers.
"The mechanics of the beasts interferes with my thought processes."
At least two more Rudley mysteries are in the hopper. For writers, a series has its pros and cons. Alguire says it becomes harder to work with the same main characters because it becomes harder to create situations sufficiently challenging to keep them interesting.
"I don't, however, have any trouble keeping track of their habits, speech patterns, or histories because they are very real to me. I have lots of fun with the minor characters--Mr. Bole, Norman Phipps-Walker, and Officer Semple. Because they don't play crucial roles, I can relax and enjoy their eccentricities," she says.
"I don't get too hung up on the need to demonstrate change in characters over time. I don't think people change that much; I think we just see them in different ways as the situation changes."”
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